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Everett Public Library staff | libref@everettwa.gov
Published: Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 8:00 a.m.

Best of 2013: fiction

  • EPLS catalog

It's hard to believe, but 2013 is about to enter into our collective memory. Before we boldly go into the new year, it is important to take a moment to remember the significant events of the past year. For us here at the library that means remembering the many books, films and albums that we encountered int 2013. To that end, we are publishing a series of posts highlighting some of our favorites from the past year. Today we start with the ever popular fiction category. Prepare for your "to read" list to get much longer.

The Circle | Dave Eggers
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. What begins as the captivating story of one woman's ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

This is a frightening modern 1984 where privacy is theft and the corporation becomes our pseudo-family. - Esta

Dreams and Shadows | C. Robert Cargill
A brilliantly crafted modern tale from acclaimed film critic and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill--part Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro, part William S. Burroughs--that charts the lives of two boys from their star-crossed childhood in the realm of magic and mystery to their anguished adulthoods

Cargill's style of writing blends folklore, mythology, fantasy, and a wonderfully sarcastic sense of humor. – Lisa

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel | Helene Wecker
Chava, a golem brought to life by a disgraced rabbi, and Ahmad, a jinni made of fire, form an unlikely friendship on the streets of New York until a fateful choice changes everything.

Wecker's descriptions of turn-of-the-century New York are just magical. –Lisa

Insane City | Dave Barry
Astonished by his imminent marriage to a woman he believed out of his league, Seth flies to their destination wedding in Florida only to be swept up in a maelstrom of violence involving rioters, Russian gangsters, angry strippers, and a desperate python.

The story cannot possibly get any more complex or ridiculous and then it does. And then again. – Ron

Seiobo There Below | László Krasznahorkai
A torrent of hypnotic, lyrical prose, Krasznahorkai's novel explores the process of seeing and representation, tackling notions of the sublime and the holy as they exist in art.

The tone of the writing is refreshingly original. Seiobo There Below puts you in the presence of a keen intelligence and sensibility. – Scott

The Infatuations | Javier Marías
From the award-winning Spanish writer Javier Maras comes an extraordinary new book that has been a literary sensation around the world: an immersive, provocative novel propelled by a seemingly random murder that we come to understand--or do we?--through one woman's ever-unfurling imagination and infatuations.

This is a thought-provoking look at the inscrutability of desire, motivation, and what Kant has termed 'radical evil.' It also includes some tremendous writing about a grief observed. – Scott

Tenth of December | George Saunders
A collection of stories which includes "Home," a wryly whimsical account of a soldier's return from war; "Victory lap," a tale about an inventive abduction attempt; and the title story, in which a suicidal cancer patient saves the life of a young misfit.

Saunders brings it all: flesh-and-blood characters, inventive plots, vivid settings, and spot-on language. – Scott

Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales | Yoko Ogawa
Sinister forces collide - and unite a host of desperate characters - in this eerie cycle of interwoven tales. Murderers and mourners, mothers and children, lovers and innocent bystanders - their fates converge in an ominous and darkly beautiful web.

I've always been a fan of Ogawa's sparse prose, which draws you in, gives you a false sense of security, and then yanks the rug out from under you. – Richard

Deadbeat – Makes You Stronger | Guy Adams
Two old friends witness what they think is a living person being put into a coffin and carried out of a funeral home. They attempt to unravel the mystery around this tableau.

Each character narrates at different times and the story is filled with surprises. – Ron

Little Elvises | Timothy Hallinan
A crook, who acts as a detective for other crooks, tries to clear a record producer/possible mafia guy of murder. The producer's claim to fame: a troop of attractive, untalented male singers in the early 60's.

The protagonist is a criminal who has never been caught, sort of a Robin Hood type, and this makes for a spin on noir detective writing. – Ron

The Rosie Project | Graeme C. Simsion
Don, a professor of genetics, sets up a project designed to find him the perfect wife, starting with a questionnaire that has to be adjusted a little as he goes along. Then he meets Rosie, who is everything he's not looking for in a wife…

An amazing debut novel written with warmth and intelligence, filled with laugh out loud moments and loveable characters… an entertaining feel-good romantic comedy. – Andrea

T.C. Boyle Stories II | T. Coraghessan Boyle
You can curl up and delight in this collection of 58 stories by a master storyteller, including 14 previously unpublished stories. Whether it's about facing mortality, first love, or fighting to survive, T.C. Boyle crafts a vibrant dramatic story.

You will be swept away by the power of his writing--there is every human emotion in these stories: fear, tenderness, savagery, longing. This emotional storm is balanced with Boyle's amazing sense of sarcasm, humor and irony. – Esta

The Illusion of Separateness | Simon Van Booy
Six seemingly unconnected people that are linked in ways not revealed to the characters and only slowly revealed to the reader. A tender story told in an unusual way.

This is beautifully written with passages I read and then read again to savor. Loved it from start to finish. – Teri

The Cuckoo's Calling | Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling
Working as a private investigator after losing his leg in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike takes the case of a supermodel's suspicious suicide & finds himself in a world of millionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, desperate designers and hedonist pursuits.

I confess I placed my hold after the author's true identity was revealed. But I am a sucker for old-school gumshoe PI mysteries and this one fits the bill. Hopefully this is the start of a series! – Carol

The Burgess Boys | Elizabeth Strout
A teen loner impulsively commits a hate crime--he places a pig's head in the doorway of a mosque in a quiet Maine town. His actions upend his family and force them to confront their own repressed emotions and traumas of the past.

The story is filled with so much compassion and revelation that you almost fall in love with each character! – Esta

The Interestings | Meg Wolitzer
In the 1970's, a group of six young adults vow to be true to their creativity and to stay connected. Their bonds carry them through years of trial and trauma into the present.

This is a saga of an era of social unrest and change. We can savor the details of each character's exploration of their own sexuality, fears, and ambitions. – Esta

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves | Karen Joy Fowler
Rosemary grows up with a very peculiar and unusual sister, and years later she mourns the loss when Fern disappears. The family starts to crumble with anger and retribution as older brother Lowell becomes a radical animal-rights activist.

A dark story that bursts with surprises and secrets revealed, as it questions what it is to be human or animal. – Esta

Life After Life | Kate Atkinson
Ursula Todd is born on a cold snowy day in 1910, and dies before drawing her first breath. Almost immediately she is reborn on that same day. And so goes this novel of what ifs, as Ursula and her family continue to wend their way through the century.

Compelling characters and a fascinating plot--plus the most amazing chapter on the London blitz. You'll feel as if you were there.— Eileen

Be sure to visit A Reading Life for more reviews and news of all things happening at the Everett Public Library.

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